There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind about your career, especially if your current job isn’t doing it for you anymore.
The stable, boring, safe corporate jobs of the past are retreating into the distance, and now you can expect to try a variety of careers over your working life – some of them will work out, and others won’t, and that’s ok.
On average, we change career paths every 5 years, and while some of these changes will be radical, most of them will be more of a shift sideways – you’ll still be using the same core ‘soft’ skills, and some of the same technical skills to do a different job.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”– Proverb
The first rule with changing careers is: ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
If you are a. earning enough money, b. engaged with your work, and c. enjoy your work environment, then you should probably consider staying where you are.
Leaving a job where you are thriving to pursue a childhood dream or shiny new idea could be more trouble than it’s worth. That doesn’t mean you need to give up on the new idea or opportunity, but look for ways to create a gradual transition, or if you’re going to make the leap ensure you don’t burn any bridges along the way.
So how do you know if now is the right time to change careers?
Do you hate your job?
We have one life, it is short, and there’s no reason to keep doing something you hate. If you hate your job, try to work out if it’s the job itself you hate, or something about the work environment. If the role itself is good, but you’re frustrated with management or can’t stand the office culture, try looking for other roles in the same industry, rather than making any wholesale changes.
That being said, not all of us have the choice to simply quit – there are bills to pay and kids to feed, and jumping ship without another job to go to isn’t always an option. If you find yourself stuck in a job you hate with no easy way out then you still have a couple of options: upskill with a free online course, and get your resume up to date so you’re ready to go in case something pops up.
Are you bored at work?
We all like a challenge, but if you’ve been doing the same thing for a few years it’s easy to find it all a bit ho hum. If you’re stuck in your own personal Groundhog Day then it might be time for a change. The first step is to look for new challenges in your current role – is there something you could change up, should you be applying for leadership roles, or could you talk to management about moving up? If there’s nothing on offer, it might be time to look elsewhere. Start by working out the bits of your current job you enjoy, work out your strong core skills, and then have a look at what else could be out there.
Do you feel like there’s ‘something more’ out there waiting?
You’d be surprised how many people feel like this. Often, we’re thinking about a dream job we thought we’d do when we grow up – there’s pressure to make that dream job a reality before it’s too late. This is only made worse when we meet people who are working in their dream job – they make it look so easy.
If you can’t shake the feeling that there’s a dream job out there waiting for you then you have two options:
- Go after it, or
- Put it behind you.
Either option is better than resisting your current career path. The reality is that many people with ‘dream jobs’ just committed to the job they found themselves in – they looked for the positives, sought out ways to challenge themselves, and stopped looking for the next big shiny thing. On the other hand, if you know your current job is definitely not your dream job, then start considering your alternatives.
The Career Change Checklist
- Do you dread going to work?
- Do you feel bored at work?
- Do you get frustrated with your job?
- Are you ready to learn, change, grow and challenge yourself?
- Do you think you can do better?
- Do you want more for yourself?
If you answered ‘yes’ to all these questions, then now could be the right time to start a career change.
Here’s how to change your career
The first step is always to look at what you already have:
- Are your qualifications up to date?
- What have you learnt and done in your current role?
- And, which core and technical skills do you have?
Once you know where you are, start workshopping possible options:
Do you like the industry you’re currently working in?
Can you find a different role which uses your industry knowledge? For example, if you work in finance but are sick of financial planning, can you move into a role managing funds instead? Or engineers who are sick of being on the tools could look for roles in management, sales or training.
If you’re ready to change industries, which industries do you find interesting, and would you want to work in them?
Many roles perform similar tasks in different industries – if you work in admin but hate working in an office look for jobs in manufacturing, aviation, or even agriculture. You’ll still be doing the same tasks, but working with topics, products and services you find interesting.
Create a list of possibilities, then start doing your research.
If you need new or updated qualifications check what you need then start working towards them. Check out what jobs are available in your area, and investigate options for starting your own business if it’s something you’d consider. Talk to the people you love, and let them know what you’re thinking – your friends and family can provide invaluable support if you’re considering a big career change.
And when the time comes to change, make the leap with confidence.